Iskander: Blog


The story behind the cover of "Through my Eyes. Again."

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I've been asked by a few people about the cover of Through my Eyes. Again. as it's a bit different from the 'usual' modern covers. As I started writing an explanation, I thought that a wider audience might like a glimpse of what goes on behind the final production of the book. A cover is the 'hook' that first attracts a reader and so it needs to be well baited with elements that hint at the story.

The overall design of the cover echoes an East German propaganda poster from 1970 (you can see this on my Patreon) by a Deutsche Demokratische Republik (DDR - communist East Germany) artist, Klaus Bernsdorf. This was found by Chris during his research and you can see this influence in the cover design.

Initially we planned to use the poster on the back cover and our echo on the front. I got in touch with the German Historical Museum in Berlin, trying to track down copyright. They were very helpful and were able to locate the name of the artist, but could not trace an address. As the copyright had returned to the artist when the DDR ceased to exist with the reunification of Germany, that meant we could not use the poster itself without breaking copyright. Work on the back cover continues - but it will only be needed if I decide to produce a print edition. (I have acknowledged Klaus Bernsdorf's work as the inspiration for the cover design in the front pages of the book.)

The novel is mostly set in Herne Bay and Beltinge, in the county of Kent in the UK during the Cold War in the early 1960s; I felt the cover should reflect this time and location. Herne Bay is a seaside town on the north Kent coast and used to have one of the longest 19th Century piers in Europe. Initially, I thought we could use an image of the pier. However, neglect, fire and storms have practically destroyed the entire structure and I couldn't find the right picture from earlier times. As a result I went looking for some other landmark.

On the Herne Bay seafront, close to what was the entry to the pier, is a clock tower. After considering various options with Chris, I decided that this was an appropriate landmark for the top part of the cover.

One of the important characters in TMEA is a child that grew up in the city of Leipzig in what was then East Germany, before escaping to the West a few weeks before the start of the novel. As with all German cities during World War II, Leipzig suffered extensive damage from bombing by the RAF and US Army Air Corp - and was then fought over in the closing stages of the war. The lower picture is of Leipzig in 1945. Chris came up with the idea of eyes of different ages - picking up the time-slip element of the novel.

Through my Eyes. Again. - final version on Bookapy

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The final edited version of Through my Eyes. Again. is now on Bookapy (under the name Robert Hart). This contains the result of professional editing - much better text formatting, many minor textual changes and a small amount of additional text. This is the version that will be released on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc on 24th March.

I'm now in the midst of promoting TMEA to a wider audience and am taking part in a number of promotional activities with authors of similar stories. The idea is that readers of my story may well find new stories from these authors - and some of their readers may find TMEA of interest.

If you are interested in looking these over, you can find information about these promotions in my profile and on my web site (link in my profile).

I hope you find something to interest you - and take care of you and yours in these difficult times.

(Robert Hart)

"Through my Eyes. Again." published

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Through my Eyes. Again. is now being published, with a release date of 24th March, 2021. I have been able to do this because of the interest and support shown by readers here.

My thanks, to you all!

In other news, work continues on the sequel, Through different Eyes, with draft chapters posted to my Patreon. As part of the marketing effort for TMEA, I am writing a short story 'prequel' for TMEA. Once TMEA launches, I'll post that here.

Stay safe, wherever you are.

TMEA editing in final phase

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Through my Eyes. Again. is now back with my editor for a final run at grammar and punctuation.This has meant that I have had time to continue work on the sequel, Through different Eyes. The first draft of Chapter 6 is now up on my Patreon (see the link in my profile).

The editing: ‘looking’ at issues

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My editor returned the text of Through my Eyes. Again. in under 10 days - much faster than I had expected - and I am now working on a myriad of suggestions. The first result of this is that Chapter 6 of the sequel Through Different Eyes has languished and still exists in outline only - my apologies. As we are also fast approaching the end of a truly chaotic, Covid-19 impacted Academic year here in Australia, my free writing time will be further reduced. I am however determined to get the draft of chapter 6 out before Christmas - after all, editing things like comma usage can be mind-numbing and I will need creative breaks.

One of the issues raised by my editor was to examine every use of the word 'look' (and its variants such as 'looked', 'looking' etc) as I had perhaps overused it. I have lost count of the times I have read through TMEA - but I hadn't noticed that problem, so it couldn't be a big issue. I loaded up the complete text in Word and told it to search for 'look' - 953 occurrences it dispassionately advised me. My brain leapt out of my skull and did a quick, yammering circuit of the house. In a twenty-chapter book, that is nearly fifty occurrences per chapter and approaching 1% or the total word count.

Once I had recovered a modicum of balance, I gritted my teeth and set to working this issue. Upon examination, some of the offending sentences can just be pruned as not advancing the story. Others required a minor rewording - but some necessitated deep thought and reworking across several sentences and occasionally paragraphs. After 8 chapters, I have reduced the 'look' and variants to 503 and the task continues. The current record is eight occurrences on one page and I have found only a single occurrence that cannot be changed - a reference to Alice's looking glass.

My excellent editor has pointed out a number of other issues - such as 'show, don't tell' in a few places, a possible pruning of a particular content type and several ideas for extension related to a couple of characters.

This is going to keep me busy for a while…